Thursday, 16 June 2011

A capitalist solution to the wind farm problem

I’ve got another of those ideas that will ‘save the world’ – or at least solve the renewable energy crisis.

Background? Well, they’re about to put in a planning application for a huge wind farm, next to my town. It will be bigger than my town! I’m against it.

My wife’s friend, however, it totally FOR it! She thinks that the white concrete monstrosities are elegant, and that the turning blades enhance the beauty of the countryside – she’d have one on the other side of Aycliffe too, if she could.

Her views have caused a little bit of friction, if I’m honest.

Now, however, I have had the idea which will solve this problem once and for all!

To understand it, you’ll need to know how these wind farms are subsidised.

The government doesn’t pay the subsidy. Instead, for every MegaWatt of renewable energy produced, it issues a ROC (a ‘renewable something-or-other certificate). The producer sells the ROC to the electricity company (the current price is about £50 per ROC).

The electricity company HAS to buy the ROCs, because they have to give a certain number of them to the government at the end of the year. And thus they pay, not only £45-per-MW for the electricity, but an extra £50 for the ROC.

And who stumps up the extra £50 – WE DO, of course! Because the electricity company simply puts up our prices to cover the extra expense.

Renewable electricity costs the consumer double that of non-renewable electricity.

So, what’s my idea, then?

My idea is an idea for a capitalist world.

It’s an idea which fits in absolutely with the current government’s philosophy of ‘less government’.

It’s an idea which states that the reason all this renewable energy stuff is going wrong is because the government has interfered with the free market economy.

It’s an idea which gives me, the consumer, my human right within the free market to make a choice, and by my choice to determine how the market functions.

The problem with the current system is that – having been forced by the government to buy the ROCs – the electricity companies are allowed to bundle up the renewable and non-renewable electricity together, and sell them together, and charge for them together, and therefore to hide the extra costs of the renewable energy in with the cost of the non-renewable.

If it was a greengrocer hiding rotten tomatoes in amongst the good ones, Trading Standards would stop him.

So let’s stop the electricity companies doing that too.

As a consumer. I ought to have the right to decide whether I want the expensive renewable electricity, or the cheaper non-renewable electricity.

The two kinds of electricity ought to have different prices, and I ought to be able to decide what proportion of the two I want.

· My friend who loves the wind farms, she’s going to choose 100% renewable energy, isn’t she! She LOVES wind farms, and thinks we need to save the environment, and thinks the extra cost is worth it, and so I’m sure she’d love to pay double for ALL her electricity, bless her.

· Me? Well, I’m a public-spirited person, and I’m prepared to ‘do my bit’ – I’ll stump up for the 11% of renewable energy that we’re supposed to be using, and I’ll pay double for that 11%.

· And I suppose there will be a lot of mean-spirited Neanderthals who don’t care about the environment, and will just use coal-electricity at the cheapest price, and let ecology go hang.

We all know what’ll happen, of course!

Almost NOBODY will plump for the double-price electricity.

And the electricity companies won’t be able to get rid of their renewable electricity, and will have to sell it at a loss, pretending that it’s non-renewable.

And there’ll be some pretty tough talking between the government and the companies.

And something will get sorted out to solve the problem.

At the moment, because they have found some idiots who are prepared to go on paying for inefficient turbines and massive subsidies, there is no compulsion for the government and the companies to sort the problem out.

Giving us our right as consumers to make a choice will allow the market to exercise its proper function, and – trust me – when they are making millions of pounds loss, the companies WILL find a solution.

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